Published: 10/5/2021 9:40:42 PM
Modified: 10/05/2021 9:55:08 PM
LEBANON – The New Hampshire Housing Appeals Board has directed the City of Lebanon to reconsider an application to extend the Prospect Hills subdivision in order to breathe new life into the proposed 117-unit project near Lebanon Middle School.
The Lebanese planning committee had rejected the expansion in March, stating that plans to build the subdivision, which would include 43 single-family homes and 74 townhouses on 40 hectares of wooded land, had dragged on for 15 years.
But in its ten-page decision to refer the matter back to the Lebanese planning board, the Concord-based Housing Appeals Board said Lebanese officials had made short work of a state law allowing such extensions for “good reasons”.
“This case rests on two words: ‘good cause,'” the Housing Appellate Body wrote last Thursday.
However, it also noted that the term was not well defined in relevant state law, and referred to a legal dictionary to define it as “a reason for taking or for not taking any action that is reasonable and justified when used in the context of the surrounding circumstances. “
Manchester-based developer Brady Sullivan had argued that he needed the expansion because he spent more time than expected “cleaning up” Phase I of Prospect Hills, an earlier development north of Prospect Street started by another developer. expended. Brady Sullivan had also claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic had hampered his ability to meet previous development deadlines.
City officials had argued that the planning agency had already given Brady Sullivan some extensions, the last one in 2018.
The Housing Appeals Committee said granting previous extensions should not be considered when deciding on the current application, and also directed the planning committee to consider whether the COVID-19 pandemic may have hampered work on the project.
Lebanon‘s director of planning and development David Brooks said Tuesday that a trial is likely scheduled for November 8, under the interim order.
“The planning department and planning committee will coordinate with the lawyer prior to the rehearsal for adequate guidance, but we have no current comment on the judgment itself,” he said.
John Cronin, a Manchester-based attorney for Brady Sullivan, said, “We are pleased with the outcome of the Housing Appeals Board, and I think it was right that the denial was not carried out correctly.”
He also noted that the project would help meet a demand in the Upper Valley.
“There is a need for housing across the country, and it’s a project that is essentially shovel-ready to be built,” he said.
John Gregg can be reached at 603-727-3217 or [email protected]